This week, we highlight three articles discussing the major implications of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent death. Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986, Justice Scalia consistently upheld conservative jurisprudence during his term, and his unexpected passing has both far-reaching legal and political implications. Within the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia’s death ends the five-member conservative majority on the bench. Many of the most contentious and closely-watched cases impacting U.S. businesses – including those deciding the future of the Affordable Care Act, the Clean Power Plan, immigration policy and public sector unions – are likely to end in a 4-4 tie. In the case of a tie, the lower court decision will stand and the Court will not set any legal precedents for future cases.
Outside of the Supreme Court, a partisan battle is being waged over the nomination of Justice Scalia’s successor, with Senate Republicans attempting to block a nomination until after President Obama leaves office. The refusal to consider a Supreme Court nominee could increase the scrutiny placed on Republican incumbents in the 2016 Senate race, potentially affecting the Senate election results. The dispute may also stall the confirmation of White House nominees Hester Peirce and Lisa Fairfax to the Securities and Exchange Commission, causing the SEC to continue operating with only three members.